New Whiskies

Batch 33

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Batch 33 includes Auchentoshan Blood Oak, Auchentoshan Noble Oak, Arran 18, Laphroaig Lore Strathclyde 25 and Aultmore 25 from Douglas Laing.

A coming of age dram from Arran gets Dave Broom’s attention this week, alongside the latest NAS from Laphroaig, two travel retail exclusives from Auchentoshan plus a 25-year-old single grain and single malt duo from Douglas Laing. 

Scoring Explained

Overview

  • Auchentoshan Blood Oak

    Score 6.8/10
    Scoring explained >
    Auchentoshan Blood Oak
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Good distillery character, with sweet digestive biscuits and Smarties that moves briefly into light peach, Mandarine Napoleon, thick vanilla, pineapple, orange, and, with water, fenceposts and a mix of black and redcurrant.

    Palate

    Big extract here, and some light tannin, but a slightly hollow centre. There’s more chocolate and whipped cream over sweet sawdust, apricot Danish pastry before the oak comes in all spicy and sassy. 

    Finish

    Peppery, then chocolate returns. Quite firm.

    Conclusion

    While it sounds like a Hammer Horror movie, the name alludes to this being aged in a mix of ex-Bourbon and red wine casks. A fair and honest Auchie.

    Right place, right time

    Eating a doughnut at a drive-in, watching ‘Blood on Satan’s Claw’.

    Auchentoshan Noble Oak, 24 Years Old

    Score 6.5/10
    Scoring explained >
    Auchentoshan Noble Oak, 24 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.5%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    There’s oak involved from the start. Crunchie bar sweetness, then pink grapefruit, orange zest and a hint of floral notes. Weighty and glossy with some butterscotch, desiccated coconut and lot of spices. With water, warm buttery popcorn.

    Palate

    Soft and downy, but the wood comes through on the finish adding a gingery note to things and then a little cereal dryness at the back. Oak-driven, sweet, spicy – but also light.

    Finish

    The citrus returns along with nutmeg and cinnamon and tightening oak.

    Conclusion

    You get the impression that there’s a lot going on here but everything is on the surface so it manages to be big and impressive at first meeting, but it’s weirdly bland.

    Right place, right time

    A bright smile, really good hair, in shape, but not a lot of substance. Cue Ron Burgundy!

     

    Aultmore 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 8.1/10
    Scoring explained >
    Aultmore 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    54.4%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Speyside
    Flavour camp
    Rich & Round
    Nose

    Ruby red in colour. Rich, supple and good. Dried red fruit – the surprise dried cranberry in a packet of raisins, some assertive Sherry funkiness then a touch of struck match giving lift. In time there’s some melted dark chocolate and stem ginger.

    Palate

    A substantial belt of Sherry, all plum duff and dried prunes, with lightly gripping tannins, and cheese rind. The overall sensation, though, is velvety with Aultmore’s flying pears coming through on the end giving a Calvados-like freshness to the back palate.

    Finish

    Clean and long. Fruity.

    Conclusion

    It’s all about the ending, where the distillery comes through, still firing. I like it. It’s best neat, even at this strength.

    Right place, right time

    A glass of oloroso with pears on the side.

    Arran 18 Years Old

    Score 8.2/10
    Scoring explained >
    Arran 18 Years Old
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    46%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islands
    Flavour camp
    Fruity & Spicy
    Nose

    Opens pleasingly with a mature – and very Arran – mix of perfumed citrus peels, flambéed banana, and peach cobbler. Give it time to breathe and out comes the start of a more aged waxiness. Fresh, and while maybe lighter than you might have expected, has charm and balance.

    Palate

    Lovely big retronasal hit of citrus and sandalwood while the palate is like orange blossom honey sprinkled with cinnamon. Mid-palate has light grip.

    Finish

    The spices begin to come through. Medium length.

    Conclusion

    Gentle and easy drinking (and that is a compliment). A really lovely, delicious dram.

    Right place, right time

    It’s like walking into the pub and finding your niece at the bar. You could have sworn she was only 10, but here she is buying you a dram, which of course you gleefully accept. They grow up so fast these days. Happy birthday Arran! 

    Laphroaig Lore

    Score 8.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Laphroaig Lore
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    48%
    Production type
    Single malt whisky
    Region
    Islay
    Flavour camp
    Smoky & Peaty
    Nose

    A return to the Laphroaig we love? Well, last year’s Cairdeas was a killer, but this latest NAS expression does have a welcome intensity; a smokehouse with smokies already on the racks, peat and woodsmoke clinging to the walls. There’re some deep phenols behind, then bath salts and a light salinity before darker fruits and a touch of lanolin (a sheep eating Sun-Pat raisins) begin to develop. It’s all quite wild and a little untamed, which to be honest is what you want from Laphroaig. In time, some smoked ham and pea soup. With water you move on to the peat bog, damp moss, wet leather boots then a flare of peat in the murk.

    Palate

    Burning fires at the start but then, strangely, it softens as some cream Sherry notes come through which add a strangely polite intermission. Quite oily. This softness means it almost loses its edge and energy, but give it a drop of water, and it picks up.

    Finish

    Fuselly and phenolic, a little like Caroni rum. An easy sipper at 48%.

    Conclusion

    A belter of a Laphroaig that justifies its price tag. Also nice to see Beam Suntory joining the transparency campaign. According to the Laphroaig website, ‘Lore is a marriage of classical Laphroaig styles and many ages… some as old as vintage 1993’.  Welcome on board!

    Right place, right time

    A wild ceilidh, peat fires burning. Then the minister walks in and everyone suddenly starts behaving. He’s given a dram and the party starts again.

    Strathclyde 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)

    Score 5.9/10
    Scoring explained >
    Strathclyde 25 Years Old (Douglas Laing)
    Price band
    £ £ £ £ £
    ABV
    50.5%
    Production type
    Single grain whisky
    Region
    Lowland
    Flavour camp
    Fragrant & Floral
    Nose

    Fairly typical Strathclyde, tight lean and little metallic with delicate citrus and a touch of nose burn. Water brings out a slight janitor’s cupboard aroma.

    Palate

    Much better, with real sugary sweetness from the off. There’s a little needle half way through, before things calm down once more and you move to a very lightly creamy back palate. Everything remains tight and focused. Water brings out more sweetness and some green elements.

    Finish

    Short.

    Conclusion

    A light grain from refill. For completists only.

    Right place, right time

    An office building at 5am. The cleaners have just left. The floors are polished.

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